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  1. #1

    Default How good or bad are the chains?

    We've got our trip planned for 1st September onwards, flights booked and we're just booking our first couple of weeks accomodation so that we know we've got places to stay and reach each day. We've booked some days inn, some best western and some independent b&b's so far. We're going to be on the road for nealt 3 months and wanted to keep cost down as much as possible and hence registered for the days inn card etc to try and get points for free nights. The problem ive now got is that ive just started reading reviews of some of these places on tripadvisor and virtually every days inn place has a review like it stinks, theres bed bugs everywhere and they're all dirty and a health hazard!!! Has anyone got anything good to say about these places, I sort of assumes that in the US in 2009, all hotels must be of a pretty reasonable standard because you guys dont accept anything less, but am I being naive? We've chosen hotels etc over trying to camp because i like a good nights sleep and i like to know ive got some food in the morning, altho again there any many reports of stale pastries and watered down OJ!!! What is the truth? Any experiences welcomed?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default hit or miss

    The one thing I would keep in mind with a site like TripAdvisor or any other site that provides reviews of hotels and other products is that people are far more likely to write to complain than if they are satisfied. When looking at complaints, you really do need to decide if they are legitimate and a problem you're likely to have, or if it is a someone who is mad that the 50 dollar motel they picked isn't a 5 star resort.

    Now as far as complaints go, I have stayed at plenty of motels that have had a breakfast of stale donuts and watered down juice - or even worse! Remember, you get what you pay for, and if you are paying as little as possible, the motel will usually provides as little as possible for a breakfast. Depending upon your priorities, you can get more bang for your buck by staying at a place that is more mid-level.

    I will also say that personally, I usually stay at the cheapest place I can find, but I don't stay at Days Inn unless they are dramatically cheaper than any other option simply because I have had many bad experiences at them. Again, this is one persons opinion and others may love them and stay there all the time.

    I will also give a bit of a word of warning about loyalty cards. They can stop being a good deal if you worry more about getting point than getting the best price. The nice thing about rewards cards these days is that they usually cover all the chains by the same ownership group (Days Inn falls with Wyndam and also covers places like Super 8, Ramada, etc) so you do have more options, however, it can push you towards staying at a place that might not be the best deal in town. You also won't get points if you use coupons or book through discount resellers like priceline or hotwire.

    I've been staying in a lot of the "choice" hotel chains lately because they have had some pretty incredible offers through their loyalty program (such as stay 2 nights get 3rd night free, etc), however, even there, probably only about half of my motel stays have been using my loyalty card because I've found better deals elsewhere.

  3. #3

    Default All part of the adventure

    Hi Gavilinho

    I'm not sure it's possible to generalise in terms of hotels/motels. You can get good and bad examples of the same chain (they're often just franchises so it's down to the franchisee) just as some independent motels are full of character while others are full of bedbugs.

    In short, it's possible to get great $50 rooms and disappointing $200 rooms, so if I can offer one piece of advice it's to play it by ear and really not worry about booking ahead.

    I understand the need to have the security of a couple of nights' bookings at the start but, beyond that, you are not going to find yourselves without a room. It simply won't happen.


    And when you arrive somewhere, you can usually tell within a matter of seconds what the place is like from the look of the reception/lobby area. And if you're in any doubt, ask to see the room - they won't be offended.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default And another perspective

    I stay in places with one basic attribute -- by and large they are the nicest that I can afford that night. I have absolute zero interest in staying overnight in a cheap place -- my brain is not wired towards that criteria. Which isn't to say that I've ever been able to afford 5-Star luxury lodging every night, but I look for the nicest possible place with the best amenities and combination of features I would prefer that night and stay there.

    When I am field checking a road trip route, I will stop and check just about every motel in every price range.

    WRT the chains issue, I prefer Holiday Inn Express, the management is consistent and the performance is usually very good. As mentioned above, the cost of the room is only one of the criteria I use. By the way, bed bugs are universal problem -- doesn't really matter whether it is a $30/night or a $200/night room. I'm personally not aware of any bed bug issues in establishments with room rates in the higher rates, but I am sure it's possible. Those little buggers can be an issue -- Hoteliers are doing what they can to solve issues when they arise, but it is a challenge for everyone out there. That being said, I've only been feasted upon by one set of bed bugs in the last decade of travel -- so don't let it worry you too much.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Bedbugs?

    I always chuckle when I see bedbugs claimed in a review. I'm a tightwad and always stay in the cheapest places I can find if the weather isn't conducive to camping. While I've stayed in some shabby places, I've never stayed in one that felt unclean. And never encountered a bedbug. Of course, maybe I've just been lucky or bedbugs don't like us. :)

    I agree with everything said thus far. I've checked out TripAdvisor and similar sites to see what they have said about places I'm familiar with just to get an idea of how accurate the reviews are. There have been complaints about places that I've enjoyed, as well as raves about places I thought were pretty blah. I recall one in particular where they raved about how helpful and friendly the staff were. Well, we must have stayed there on a bad night because I felt the staff were downright rude. Go figure.

    You can always refuse to accept a room if it's not up to your standards. Sometimes another room in the same motel might be OK or you can just go to another motel. For the most part, unless you're staying in a high-tourist area or there's a special event going on, finding motels with vacancies isn't difficult.

    BTW, I've stayed in several Day's Inns and would do it again. I haven't had any bad experiences.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default With Enough 2˘, We Might Get to a Dime's Worth of Advice

    I'm pretty much in agreement with most of the sentiments expressed so far. With my style of RoadTripping, value, cleanliness and quiet are the main things that I look for in a motel. Since I don't usually want to be making these kinds of evaluations late in the evening when I'm tired and don't have time to check out several options, I usually fall in the 'book ahead' camp. This allows me to figure out a rough itinerary that will keep me moving and allow enough time for sight seeing, determine roughly where I'll be spending each night, and then thoroughly search out what's available. That means checking such sites as TripAdvisor and, as well as perhaps negotiating a deal through Priceline, Hotwire, or similar sites. As others have said, when I use the review sites, I take them with a grain of salt and look for establishments with a majority of positive reviews knowing full well that disgruntled (for whatever reason) customers will be more likely to post but also that there are such things as shills who are paid to post positive reviews. It's all a bit of a balancing act to weigh cost, location, reviews, amenities, reputation, etc., but the only way I know of to get good at it is to do it.

    My specific experiences with Days Inn have been uniformly good and it is one of the chains that I routinely check out as a likely stop. As with Mark, I find that paying a little more than rock bottom prices makes for a much more pleasant experience, and since I'm spending more than a third of any RoadTrip in the motel, it's money well spent. As a rule of thumb, I generally end up paying in the $60-70 range for a motel room in small to medium sized towns and cities where I prefer to spend the night. My bad experiences have almost all been when staying at low end units. Not necessarily because of any fault of the motel itself (although/because I don't expect much from them) but because of the other clientele. There is a tendency for people who use these type establishments to be less than considerate of their neighbors, especially in the noise department. Low end renters tend to consist of teenagers, families with many children, and the like. And don't even get me started on my experience in a Motel 6 near an Army base on a weekend!

    In short, there is no good, quick answer. Comparison shopping takes time and effort and you'll make a few mistakes along the way as you learn what works for you. Unfortunately, that means you can't rule out any chain a priori and you can't just decide to use another one all the time with uniformly positive results.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Been there, done that!

    Quote Originally Posted by AZBuck View Post
    And don't even get me started on my experience in a Motel 6 near an Army base on a weekend!
    During a memorable breakdown of our truck we spent a looooooooooong weekend at an inexpensive motel near a certain "basic training" army base in the south.... The memories from that weekend are etched into my permanent memory chip.


  8. #8


    Well, i just gotta say thanks for all that advice! As Michael said, i think we applied for the loyalty cards intending to spend most of our time in them and to that extents, just started booking with them, but the moer time i look around on the internet, the more we're booking other places anyway. Of the last 4 places ive managed to book, 3 are independent and 1 is a Country Inns. I think is going to be a case of mix and match really, try and do a couple of cheap ones just to keep costs down and then try and get in with a b&b that maybe gives a bit more hospitality.
    Thanks for agreeing with my 'book ahead' philosophy Buck. I think because this is our first time, i just like to know that ive got a bed for the night somewhere, we've got to do 100 miles a day average, but one section has us going from near Mount Washington in NH to Niagara Falls which i think is about 420 miles or something, when i get there i just want to crash on a bed and get something to eat, knowing im booked in!! I think most of these reviews probably are from people who are serial complainers or maybe expect too much, we're not really going to know until we get there i guess!

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